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Sviluppo economico e capitale naturale nel pensiero meridionalistico (Economic development and natural capital in the economic thought of the Southern Italy question)

Rosario Patalano

Il Pensiero Economico Italiano, 2009, vol. 17, issue 2, 11-31

Abstract: This paper analyses the complex connection between economic development and natural capital in economic thought on the Southern Italy Question. The idea of Southern Italy as a naturally fertile country dominated for many years the policy makers’ mentality. The optimistic view about the natural capital endowment of Southern Italy represent a myth around which the South-Italian development model was constructed. This myth was organically formulated by Antonio Genovesi. The crisis of this fertility myth was determined by the dramatic effects of the great 1764 famine and of the recurrent floods that highlighted the deep unbalances caused by the intense exploitation of the territory for productive purposes. But its definitive fall was caused by the agrarian crisis of the 1880s, when the backwardness of the productive structures and of contractual forms became apparent, and impoverishment of the natural capital by intense and irrational exploitation was revealed. The late nineteenth- century economic thought was a reaction to the paradigm of the rich albeit misgoverned Southern Italy. The development strategy that Francesco S. Nitti proposed relied on a tradition of thought that – from Antonio Serra to Ferdinando Galiani – located in manufactures the fly-wheel for the development of Southern Italy, rejecting the view based on the climatic advantages of agriculture. After ww ii the manufacturing approach became dominant in the framework of ‘extraordinary intervention’ policies, and it determined the development model for the modernization of Southern Italy.

Keywords: risorse naturali; sviluppo economico; questione meridionale (natural resources; economic development; Southern Italy question) (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: B10 B20 O13 Q56 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2009
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